Exploring Linocut Artists

Using the internet, I have enjoyed looking at lots of linoprint artists with widely differing styles. I have selected three to discuss here, based on their differing approaches to similar subject matter, the natural world, and, in particular, plants.

My tutor has suggested I look at the work of Angie Lewin, who is probably the linoprint artist most familiar to the general public.

http://www.angielewin.co.uk/collections/current-prints

Her work is generally characterised by delicate detail with a series of cool, pastel background colours  printed and  a final ‘keyblock’ with defining black or dark outlines printed over, to define the edges of subjects and create crisp shapes. This is a very traditional approach arising out of the influence of Japanese woodblock printing which so inspired 19th century artists. Her prints are flattened, styled descriptions of plants with little context, texture or perspective. This is the shapes of plants distilled as pattern, and indeed many of her prints find their way into fabrics and china wear. I find them reminiscent of 1950s designs. The delicacy of her lines must be very difficult to produce in lino because of the technical problem of cutting a thin wall of lino without it collapsing under the pressure of printing. Whilst known as a linoprinter, most of the examples in her gallery are, in fact, woodcuts, lithographs and screenprints.

An interesting contrast to this style is Penny Bhadresa.

http://www.pennybhadresa.co.uk/gallery/

A particular appeal of her prints is that she generally avoids rectangular edges. The prints appear to  layer different shaped plates but this would give real registration difficulties. I contacted the artist to how she tackled this problem and received this kind reply:

As to registration, I use a very simple technique, which is to construct vertical and horizontal card margins (left-hand side and top/bottom) on the bed of my press using strips of mount board, attaching them with tape or PVA glue. This ensures that the lino blocks (which of course have to be identical in size, so very exact measuring and cutting required) line up precisely each time.

In addition, she doesn’t use the texture of cutting lines and I asked her how she avoided this:

As for the cutting marks, I tear up pieces of clean paper and lay them around the edges and where necessary on the inked-up lino block before carefully laying the printing paper on top. I’m also careful to cut away as much lino as possible around edges so that as little ink as possible is picked up by cutting marks. This is a bit fiddly but worth the effort if you want a ‘clean’ print!

I imagine this masking also helps to produce the effect of shapes floating against each other rather than within the edge of the plates.

In ‘Catkin’ she has investigated the plant in a much freer, less controlled way than Angie Lewin, and, although abstract, has produced a more organic feel. Her colours are rarely flat blocks. She uses rollers to apply ink locally, mixing and varying the colours on each plate. The print ‘Two Fishes’, is a particular example of how she has introduced lots of colour and texture this way, in what I think is a single plate inked in three colours. I greatly enjoy the happenstance of how the colours mix.

Two Fishes, Linocut, Penny Bhadresa, produced here by kind permission of the artist.

Two Fishes, Linocut, Penny Bhadresa, produced here by kind permission of the artist.

In contrast to Angie Lewin, she doesn’t use a keyblock approach to defining outlines and her compositions are also much more concerned with context.

Neither if these artists use the cutting marks left by removal of background to create texture. Helen Roddie does this to great effect. I like the organic nature of the cutting, that  it is obviously a linoprint and I that can feel the hand of the artist at work.

http://www.helenroddie.co.uk/

Her approach to colour is also different. Many of her prints are a single plate, perhaps printed over a flat coloured background. Often they are a single, black layer on white with texture, rather than colour, as the principal interest. Her prints, therefore, have great drama and impact. ‘Trollius’ is an example of how she has used a single, black inked plate to create dramatic, sculptural forms with an extra dimension created by the flow of the cutting lines in the background. She has investigated the tone on the plants much more that the other two artists.

'Trollius' by Helen Roddie, by kind permission of the artist

‘Trollius’ by Helen Roddie, by kind permission of the artist

She also often places a thick boarder at the edge of her plate. This adds to the sculptural effect and must also aid registration over a slightly smaller background. At least that’s how I would exploit it.

I am most grateful to Penny Bhadresa and to Helen Roddie for their insights and for their kind permission to reproduce their work.

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About starrybird

I am mature student studying art with The Open College of the Arts. My passion is printmaking.
This entry was posted in Exploring Linocut Artists, Part 2 Introduction to Relief Printing - Linocuts, Printmaking 1, Research Points and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Exploring Linocut Artists

  1. Pingback: Research Point – Jonathan Ashworth, Andy English, Chris Pig, Mark Hearld – Mark Making | OCA Printmaking 1

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